Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quick Photo Shoot

My first session after my dad’s accident was a quick shoot of Orion and Jupiter in Taurus.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Astronomical activity suspended

My dad is seriously ill after an accident, so no updates for now and then they might be irregular for a while.

Astronomical activity suspended

My dad is seriously ill after an accident, so no updates for now and then they might be irregular for a while.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Moon with Jupiter

Conditions were much more hazy than the day before, so I just snapped the Moon with Jupiter. The faint traces of Aldebaran and Betelguese can also be seen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Plough Handle

At 2001 GMT, I attempted to snap the Plough but only caught the handle! Still, it made a nice sight with the foreground trees.

Moon with Jupiter

I snapped the Moon with Jupiter at 1800 GMT (1900 local time) in twilight.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Evening Photo Shoot

I did a photo shoot of the Moon and Jupiter at 2045 GMT, after a lot of fiddling.

I stacked four frames of Orion to produce this image.

An alternative presentation showed more stars but no colour.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February 17th observations

I bin scanned the Sun with small binoculars (7x30) (from Brest, France) especially taken for travelling at 1630 GMT but didn’t see any sunspots.

I popped out at 2015 GMT before dinner to do a quick photo shoot. I caught the Moon with Jupiter and Aldebaran.

I also snapped Auriga, directly overhead.


The final shot from August 28th 2011 shows Pegasus. I tried to combine it with the Andromeda shot but it failed.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Alternative Pleaides shot

An alternative processing method for the Pleaides from 15th, showed more stars but no colour.

Webcam shoot February 15th

At 2315 a patch of sky cleared around Jupiter. I’d been itching to try out a new method of webcamming at F/2.5 (yes, I mean F/2.5) by using the Startravel 80 and Antares focal reducer. I started off doing Jupiter’s moons then moved on to the Pleaides until the battery ran out at 2340 GMT. On stacking the images, I found that Registax 5 worked better on the longer exposures than Registax 6. The Pleaides shot was composed of about 11 imaging runs.

January 2013 Full Report


I reprocessed a solar close-up from August 19th 2011.

First light of 2013 was a zenith shot taken at 0100 GMT.

I saw some sunspots through the Mak at 1125 GMT and took full disc and close-up shots.

By contrast when I checked the Sun at 1150 GMT with my PST, it seemed rather quiet.

After nightfall, I took zenith shots at 1840, 1920, 2000, 2100, 2200 and 2250. I was intending to snap the Moon and Jupiter after Match of the Day but when I went out at 2345 it was clouded over.


The next shot from the August 19th 2011 showed rather more detail in the lower right quadrant.


The bottom left quadrant showed a bit of detail, too.


The day started out cloudy, so I reprocessed a lunar image from August 21st 2011.

It cleared (albeit partially) in the early evening and I had a strangle impulse to see Jupiter in less than ideal conditions. I was out at 1750 GMT when twilight had almost gone. At low magnification (48x), Jupiter showed the two main cloud belts and five apparent moons and it was far from obvious which one was the background star. I took some snaps through my compact digital camera.

I was struggling somewhat with my webcam (SPC880) and I tried hard to use a mask for focussing but guessed there wasn’t enough light getting through (not usually a problem for Jupiter). Following some discussions on forums, I tried using a frame rate of 10 per second, although it conflicted with my own ideas. I used a 2x Barlow lens with the webcam.

I combined the last image with the moon shot to produce this composite. 



It was cleared when I looked out at 0640 GMT. Ideally, I’d have done a long session but I had to travel for a training course. I took a zenith shot and was pleased to catch Alcor/Mizar and a satellite.

A lunchtime binocular scan at 1340 GMT showed the Sun unusually active.

January 12th

Another 5 images were used to produce another image of Plato.

January 13th

The day had started brightly but by the time I was ready to snap the Sun in hydrogen alpha light at 1025 GMT, thin cloud had covered the Sun. Visually, the only stand-our features were the sunspots I could see much better in white light anyway. I took some full disc and close-up (of the sunspot area) shots in the hope of getting usable data. Only the full disc shot showed anything useful at all.

Having sorted out one or 2 chores, I had another go at the Sun with my PST at 1140 GMT. It was quite incredible in the clearer conditions with some activity all over the disc. The sunspot region looked quite amazing and I could see a small prominence. I took full disc shots and close-ups of the sunspot area and prominence area.

At 1150 GMT, I did a full disc imaging run with the Maksutov but could only capture a few frames before the battery ran out. 4 frames were stacked with Registax 5 (Registax 6 “froze”) and further processing was done using Paintshop Pro and GIMP.

At 1200 GMT I was webcamming the Sun with the Mak and SPC880. I started off with the 2x Barlow lens but seemed to get sharper sunspots without it. I managed to see a lot of detail on the laptop screen, with the sunspots showing irregular patterns and penumbral shading.

As it turned out, the shots without the Barlow lens worked best and the others I discarded. I tried to stitch and stack the files I obtained from Registax but was unable to get higher resolution, so here are the results.


I spotted Venus just above the horizon from the car on the way to work.

At lunchtime I bin scanned the Sun and it looked rather different from the view on 13th but still very active.

I was hoping to start on the Moon earlier but, unfortunately, had to take my daughter to Casualty. At least she wasn’t as bad as feared and the Moon was still there at 2000 GMT, although getting lower. I did some full disc shots and some close-ups with the webcam, without the 2X Barlow lens. The full disc image was the best 5 of 10 frames.

The first photo from the webcam runs is a mosaic of 3 stacked imaging runs from Registax  5 combined into a single image using Microsoft ICE, with further processing done using Paintshop Pro and GIMP.

The second image consists of the result of a single imaging run.

The third image was composed from 2 separate imaging runs.

The fourth picture was taken from a single imaging run.

The next picture was also taken on a single imaging run.

The mid-region near the terminator showed a lot of detail from a single run.


August 21st 2011 was a very prolific day and the next sequence of reprocessed shots feature the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, starting with the full disc.

In the absence of clear sky, I decided to revisit the Jupiter shots of earlier in the month. I experimented with splitting channels and was amazed to see the blue channel show the most detail.


6 more images from August 21st 2011 were used to show the Appennines.



This is the first close-up in the solar hydrogen alpha sequence of August 21st 2011.

Conditions were poor but I managed to snap the Moon with Jupiter at 2045 GMT.


This is the second close-up of the solar hydrogen alpha sequence of August 21st 2011.


This is the third close-up of the solar hydrogen alpha sequence of August 21st 2011.


I noticed that the sunspot group I captured earlier in the month reminded me of some of the galaxies I had seen. I reprocessed the best close-up to produce a fake galaxy cluster.


I checked the Sun with the bins early morning and couldn't spot activity. The Big Bear images looked quite bland, too. I returned out at 1040 GMT with a telescope and camera.

I only saw and captured two sunspots but it was just nice to be out again. Usual method with the Maksutov. Considered the spots too small to want to attempt webcamming them.


On August 21st I also took a shot of the solar disc through my Maksutov using the normal capture and processing procedures.


I took a close-up of the sunspot region to show more detail.

In the Portugese evening at 1930 GMT I took an overhead shot and it showed Perseus, Cassopiea and the Pleaides.

I was out again at 2100 snapping the Moon through my binoculars. It was past full but Tycho’s rays were still dominating the moonscape and there was some terminator detail near Mare Crisium.


I took a close-up of another region from August 21st 2011.

I did a series of constellation shots from 1900 to 1930 GMT. The eastern sky was covered by cloud but the area surrounding Orion seemed quite promising, so I decided to concentrate there. In the first shot, Lepus and Canis Minor are also visible.

Although I couldn’t see the other stars in Canis Major (apart from Sirius) the main ones came out in the photo, even though it was low in the sky.

I also took a second shot of Orion, which I thought was better.

The Gemini shot showed the constellation at a different angle from what we see in the UK.


I took a widefield shot of the summer constellations, including the faint pair of Delphinus and Sagitta.